(A man stands outside a burnt shed which housed a generator in Damaturu, Yobe state, North east Nigeria, November 8, 2011. Nigeria's police said on Tuesday they had arrested suspected members of an Islamist sect behind coordinated attacks in the north of the country that killed at least 65 people late last week. REUTERS/Olatunji Omirin)

A violent Islamist sect responsible for scores of killings in northeast Nigeria is increasingly linking up with global jihadist movements like al Qaeda, a military commander in the area told Reuters. Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, a senior military official in the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), was speaking at a government house at the end of dusty track in Maiduguri, the heartland of the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Boko Haram is al Qaeda,” he said. “I see perfect links. It cuts across boundaries. Al Qaeda has no boundary, Boko Haram has no boundary. All terrorists, one problem,” said Mohammed, dressed in camouflage and flanked by armed soldiers.

Many analysts and Nigerians doubt the extent to which Boko Haram has global ambitions — the group’s avowed aim is to introduce Sharia across Nigeria — but it seems to be growing in sophistication and it is thought they have made contact with al Qaeda’s north African affiliate.

They are becoming a growing security headache for president Goodluck Jonathan, who on Thursday tried to assure investors at an economic summit in the capital it would be short lived.